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Can Labour Be Pain-Free?

Updated: Jul 21, 2018

Since qualifying as a hypnobirthing teacher, this is something I have been asked by many women and had a lot of comments on from my own friends and family.

"There is NO WAY that labour can't not be painful"

"When I was in labour, the pain was can hypnobirthing help that?"

I understand where people are coming from. We are so programmed to think of labour and birth as painful. We see it in the media all the time. As soon as you tell people you are pregnant, everyone who has given birth will tell you it was bloody painful. Your friends tell you how much it hurt. Your mother-in-law says she couldn't bare it (tip - don't listen). One Born Every Minute shows women screaming out in pain (tip - don't watch it). You have these pre-conceived ideas about how it will be, which become your reality because it is all you can think about at that moment in time.

Spoiler. No one knows how your labour will be. No one can say it will be 'pain-free'. Everybody is unique. I can't make guarantees as a hypnobirthing teacher and would never claim labour and birth to entirely free of pain. Contrary to popular belief, hypnobirthing is NOT a form of pain-relief. It supports your body to work how nature intended and your mind to think rationally and calmly about the situation, which can more often than not, help you to be more comfortable. I can honestly say, that if you use hypnobirthing as it is intended, you will feel less pain, than if you were not to use it.


You need to be calm and relaxed for labour to progress, as nature intended. You produce oxytocin, which is the hormone that causes your uterus muscles to contract and your cervix to dilate, ready for birth. Yay! BINGO.

If you are stressed, perhaps because you are scared you will be in pain, this process is less efficient. You will become anxious and produce adrenaline, part of the 'fight or flight' response, which is what happens when we are presented with a threatening situation and gets us ready to run away. Blood and oxygen will move to your vital organs and away from your uterus, the muscle does not function as effectively, which causes more and more discomfort. THIS is why people feel pain in labour. Yeah, you can still give birth as nature intended this way, though it will be different than in a calmer state. And this is why hypnobirthing mothers generally feel less discomfort, because they are more relaxed. Oxytocin and adrenaline cannot be produced at the same time, so how you are feeling about birth really can be a make or break, for determining your overall experience.

This does not mean that a hypnobirthing-birth is always drug free, you are able to use your rational mind to decide if you would like to use pain relief. That is ok! Anything to make you feel more calm is perfect. Hypnobirthing is not a 'one-size fits all' phenomenon, so it is important for you to keep an open mind and use it to suit you.

Hypnobirthing can prepare you for birth, in terms of relaxation techniques, ensuring you are comfortable and confident with the decisions you are making, learning how to optimise your body's physiological function and reframing your fears. All of this in turn will support you to feel more comfortable, or atleast be able to manage your comfort levels, so that you remain in full control of your labour and birth. Its logical and it works.


  • Ask your caregivers to refer to 'pain' levels as 'comfort' levels. If someone asks 'are you in pain?' you automatically think you should be. Whereas, if they ask 'are you comfortable?' that is much more positive.

  • Tell your friends and family to only share positive birth stories, or not at all.

  • Have 3 items in mind which make you feel relaxed. You can take these to the hospital/have them close to you at home, when you are in labour.

Want to know more of my top tips? Feeling inspired to have a comfortable birth? Contact me to discuss and book your bespoke hypnobirthing course now!

Hannah x

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